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GenSight investment profits from gene therapy buzz

Authored by James Sheppard

French gene therapy company GenSight Biologics recently announced they had raised 32m euros in series A funding. The funding was led by the corporate venture capital fund, Novartis Venture Fund. Other notable investors included Abingworth LLP and Index Ventures.

GenSight Biologics are currently developing a gene replacement therapy for Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) and an optogenetic therapy for retinitis pigmentosa. GenSight’s lead product is expected to enter the clinic in 2013. If successful, GenSight will join the Dutch biotech UniQure in pioneering gene therapy.

GenSight is led by one of gene therapies leading innovators, Bernard Gilly. Gilly was formerly CEO of Transgene, a publically traded gene therapy company and CEO of Fovea Pharmaceuticals.  Alongside Gilly, is Professor Jose-Alain Sahel who is Chairman of the Vision Institute, Paris and Jen Bennett, Professor of Opthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania.  GenSight can also turn to an illustrious list of fellow co-founders.

With interest in gene therapy ignited by Uniqure’s success with Glybera , investors and pharma companies are jumping in. Recently, Celgene announced partnerships with investigators at Baylor and the gene therapy biotech bluebird bio, while Boehringer Ingelheim also announced an undisclosed investment in the French biotech Eyevensys.  The investments have signalled a dramatic turnaround for the gene therapy market which has been previously dogged by safety concerns.

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